When I was a teenager I came across a book called ‘How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents’. It was able to capture how I felt being, essentially, an immigrants daughter. I was born In Lima, Peru but moved to Canada when I was 7. I actually turned 7 the day I got here. Epic.
I have had a pretty amazing life here. Never had to deal with any issues of racism or prejudice, but I definitely have felt different. It’s a feeling that I sometimes like. I like having a different background than the rest of my friends. I enjoy being able to live parallel lives…my life in Toronto and my life when I go to Lima. Those things have shaped who I am today. They have made me, well, me.
My struggles have been centred around trying to figure out where I belong. Where am I meant to be. Who was I meant to be. What if I had stayed in Lima and never moved? Who would I become?
Julia Alvarez, in her Garcia Girls novel and in her book of poetry ‘The Woman I Kept To Myself’ has been able to capture all the things I’ve been feeling and put them into beautiful words and pages. She by far is the poet and writer who I have most identified with, and it is why I tend to read and reread her poetry quite often.
She is able to articulate my thoughts and at the same time remind me that I am not alone. That others feel the same way and that it is ok! You can be grateful for the life you have and still have a sense of wonder about what might have been. Heck, you can even explore ‘what might have been’ in the future, with more time, and maybe even with a family of your own.
This might only resonate with people who know what it’s like to live somewhere where they were not born. But I have a feeling it will resonate with anyone who has a wandering spirit or is a ‘citizen of the world’…..eventually we will all find our place.
This month, do something wonderful for your soul and pick up this book. When you’re done pick up her other novels, and when that’s done, why not try a little poetry of your own. Where do you feel you belong?